How would you describe Atticus' actions on the night when the mob arrived at the jailhouse? What do his actions tell you about his character?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 15, Atticus drives to the Maycomb jailhouse and sits outside of Tom Robinson's cell to make sure that nobody attempts to harm Tom before the trial. Jem, Scout, and Dill decide to find out where Atticus is and eventually spot him in front of the jailhouse. Seemingly out of nowhere, a group of dusty cars arrive from the Meridan highway. The Old Sarum bunch gets out of the cars and surrounds Atticus. One of the members of the mob tells Atticus to step aside, and Atticus says, "You can turn around and go home again, Walter" (Lee 202). When the mob informs Atticus that Sheriff Tate will not be able to come to his aid, Atticus simply says, "that changes things, doesn't it?" (Lee 202). After hearing Atticus' reply, Scout runs out from her hiding place into the middle of the group of men. Jem and Dill follow Scout and Atticus tells Jem to go home. Jem is defiant and refuses to leave. Atticus repeats his directive and says, "Son, I said go home," but Jem won't leave (Lee 202). While Atticus is trying to convince Jem to take the children home, Scout recognizes Walter Cunningham Sr. She attempts to make conversation and finally gets Mr. Cunningham's attention. Mr. Cunningham realizes the weight of his actions and tells the mob to leave. When the mob leaves, Atticus is relieved and wipes his face before walking the children home.

Atticus' actions are best described as courageous, thoughtful, and selfless. He bravely stands up to the Old Sarum bunch without wavering and has his children's well-being in mind the whole time. Atticus' decision to selflessly defend Tom during the dangerous situation depicts his morally upright, strong-willed character. Atticus' actions reveal that he is a man of integrity, courage, and determination.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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